Enzyme Halts Runaway Inflammation

An enzyme called A20 that can slow out-of-control inflammation has been identified by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. This enzyme, which is found in nearly all human cells, could offer a target for the development of new drugs to treat a range of inflammatory diseases that result when the body's immune system overreacts to bacterial invasion. The researchers found that A20 prevents immune system overreaction to sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection in which bacteria invade the bloodstream. If A20 fails to limit that response, the immune system's overreaction can result in a deadly collapse of blood pressure. The enzyme may also play a part in immune system dysfunction linked to inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers said. And it might play key roles in arthritis, type 1 diabetes and atherosclerosis, as well. The findings appear in the Aug. 29 issue of Nature Immunology.

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